The surprising American consensus on coal

While reading the New York Times coverage of Obama’s new carbon compact with China, I was stunned to learn that only “twenty-one percent of Americans think producing electricity from coal is a good idea.” For the sake of comparison, a study published in February found that twenty-six percent of Americans could not correctly answer, “Does the Earth go around the Sun, or does the Sun go around the Earth?”

In other words, there are more Americans who think the Sun orbits the Earth than who think burning coal is a good idea.

I’m not just dragging the sun into this for no reason. The Times also mentioned that “91 percent of Americans think making electricity from sunlight is a good idea.” And still, coal accounts for nearly 40% of the country’s energy supply. Meanwhile, Republicans continue to believe their “War on Coal” battlecry will prove as effective as their more-fictitious “War on Christmas” (which is, ironically, difficult to wage without coal).

It’s almost like money has more gravity than the sun.


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